Grand Teton NP - equipment review

Discussion in 'Locations & Meetup forum' started by SquarePeg, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Who has been? What lenses and/or accessories would you consider must haves? Going next fall with a photo group and want to make sure I have what I need. Because the trip is photography specific, we will shooting sunrise, sunset, wildlife and landscapes. I’ll rent what I don’t have already including another body (xt3?)

    What I have:
    Fuji xt2 (crop)
    12mm f2
    14mm f2.8
    18-55 2.8-4
    35mm f2
    56mm f1.8
    60mm macro f2.4
    90mm f2
    50-230 f4.5-6.7

    We won’t be doing any serious hiking but I will need to carry my backpack for a few short hikes throughout the days. I won’t need to have everything with me all the time but I do want to have options and keep it light if possible.

    Thinking of renting the 10-24 f4 so I can leave the 12 and 14 behind - I’d be giving up a stop or two but will be using a tripod when light is scarce. Also will need something longer for wildlife and the 100-400 is the only option I see... wildlife is not my focus but it will be part of the trip so want to be prepared.

    Specific lens Recommendations? I do have a Nikon to Fuji X converter. Lens rental places you’ve had a good experience with?

    I know it’s a bit soon to think about this but I’m very excited about the trip!


     
  2. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You are one lucky shooter. I've been there plenty of times, actually did a honeymoon there and Yellowstone. You'll have a blast.

    Okay, equipment: definitely a tripod (because you'll shoot a few long exposures). Definitely a graduated neutral density filter (for sunrise/sunset exposures). I would absolutely rent a longer zoom (400mm minimum and maybe even 600mm). There will be times where you can't get closer to an eagle on a branch or a herd of bison yet you want to get "up close and personal." Particularly if you're shooting some from a vehicle, you can rest the lens on a beanbag or door. Then I'd go with the 56mm f1.8--wide enough for landscapes, great bokeh for some artsy shots or portraits of a bird or some piñon nuts. Or maybe the 18-55mm (because if you're shooting in a vehicle, you will take a few shots of the passengers or wildlife right outside your vehicle door).

    I do think it would make sense to have a second body--(a) in-case you have an equipment failure (don't want to be on a photo trip and no camera) and (b) put the longest lens you have on one body and then something shorter/wide angle on the other. Definitely bring the ability to backup every night--do not assume you're just going to have a gazillion SD cards and then transfer files when you get home.

    Some thoughts: Fall, water levels will likely be low. Consider taking a raft trip down the snake river--it won't be white water, you'll just be floating along. When I did it, we went directly under a tree branch that had an eagle perched on looking down at us--maybe 30 feet above me. Tons of great iconic photos of buildings, farms, fences so be thinking of monochrome compositions for many of these. Probably pretty chilly in the morning so expect to get terrific shots of mist coming off of bodies of water or steam from the nostrils of bison. As a photo trip, your guides will already know this but you should plan to be up before sunrise because you want to be on the water as the sun comes up--that's when the animals will be there plus you get spectacular color on the water.

    Some additional thoughts: will you be flying in to Jackson or SLC? If it's SLC, the drive north through Logan Canyon in Utah will have some spectacular color with the aspens--be prepared to shoot (or have your driver pull over and let you grab a few). And you absolutely must stop either in Logan or Bear Lake and try a Raspberry milkshake--this is superb raspberry country and their shakes there are to die for. And you mentioned the Tetons--since you're in the area it's worth it to spend 2-3 extra days and go to Yellowstone. Even if you barely get out of your car, it would be a missed opportunity if you don't. The geysers, mud pots, hot springs, critters--all just amazing shots without having to work hard to get them. DSC_0200.jpg

    Last thought--highly likely in Fall there will have been some significant wildfire burns during the summer (and might still be going on during the fall--wildfire season has gotten longer each year). As tragic as those are, they produce some amazing macro photography opportunities--charred wood, new growth next to the burn, a landscape of burnt trees. The photo below is from a burn that was very recent (you can still see smoke from some of the trees).
     
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  3. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the input. Not sure yet about Yellowstone. It's not part of the photo trip but I may fly in a few days earlier and go on my own - being alone would definitely limit where I am willing to go off road/path but it would give me a taste of it and since it is a very long flight for me I may as well take advantage of it. I might see if anyone else on the tour is interested in meeting a few days early to share a rental and spend a day or two there.

    I don't think rafting is part of the trip and I don't have any control of the agenda but that sounds incredible! This is a guided photo trip led by an experienced photographer who is familiar with the park. My understanding is that we'll go wherever we can get the best shot based on weather and light. Sunrise, wildlife, sunset repeat! Not sure if any night shooting is planned but will find out. I've been eyeing one of these trips for about a year and the other day they offered a bogo so I booked this one and now have a 2nd trip "in the bank" to be booked whenever I want. Maybe Bryce Canyon or Glacier NP next time. The original trip that peaked my interest was to GNP but the dates don't work for me next year and the sale was too good to pass up - basically getting 2 trips at 50% off.

    Good advice on the equipment. I have a GND, ND and polarizing filters for all of my lenses but will keep in mind the thread sizes when I rent and see if I need to get something else. The GND's are part of a system and also have some ND's with that but the polarizers are thread specific. For length, I'm not sure I'll go for anything over the 100-400 only because wildlife is not a focus for me and I don't want to lug around a telescope sized lens. I'm debating the 10-24 and the 18-55 or I could rent the 16-55 and bring the 12mm... I think in a group setting the zooms will be more convenient and efficient. I'll have my tripod - I'll be bringing 2 bodies for sure so would I need a 2nd tripod or just a second plate for my existing system? It's new so I only have the one plate right now...

    I am probably flying into JAC but haven't booked yet because it's still too far away for the flights to be listed. I'll be using ff miles so whichever is better for travel times and available award seats. That drive from SLC sounds beautiful. I'll keep that in mind.

    Thanks for all your advice!
     
  4. Dean_Gretsch

    Dean_Gretsch Always looking... Supporting Member

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    Most definitely keep your longest lens on one body and a shorter one on the other when anticipating wildlife. If you don't have one, you can get a 2-camera harness very cheaply on eBay or Amazon. Your neck will thank you when carrying a big lens for any length of time.
     
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  5. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    @JoeW Amazing photo!
     
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  6. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    A couple of replies to your reply...

    1. I understand you're not focused on wildlife. But if you're on foot, you probably aren't going to get that close to Bison. Or a coyote. Or most eagles. Or a moose. So that's where a big zoom comes in handy. If you don't want to go that route, buy a teleconverter. Just realize about all you'll be able to shoot with it is very stationary objects (because it will be so slow).

    2. No, don't bring two tripods (unless you want to try variations on astro photography and shoot two concepts at the same time. If you're focused on a herd of bison, you use the tripod to hold the big zoom you have on the camera. Or you use the tripod when you're doing sunrise, sunset, blue hour, water blur, and astro photography. I suspect most of what you shoot, you won't be using a tripod for.

    3. I get your concern about being by yourself and doing Yellowstone. Think of it this way--you aren't going to leave your car (except for official stops with lots of people around you like: Old Faithful, the mud pots, other geysers, etc.). So you'll be doing minimal hiking at Yellowstone and you'll never be alone and outside of your vehicle. And unless you plan to go back, I guarantee you'll regret passing upon on a chance to shoot Yellowstone (even if you're just a one-day quick tourist drive-thru experience). Also, you're in the optimal time to see Yellowstone. Winter requires a snowmobile and spring-summer are full of people--bumper to bumper traffic in places.

    I'm going to be shocked if the flight in to Jackson is cheaper than SLC. Depending upon what airline you have miles on, you might actually find it works better to fly in to Casper or Billings. I've flown in to Jackson once--and we had to change plans either in SLC or Vegas and get on a puddle jumper.

    A couple of other thoughts: the town of Jackson is a huge tourist trap--fake saloons, etc.--it's like Juneau in Alaska. So don't plan on doing much shooting there. Most of the river trips will be shut down for the season b/c the Snake River water level will be so low. You'll just drift down the river. It will take double the time of a usual trip but it's a great photo opportunity. In the mountains, sunset comes early (b/c it will disappear behind other peaks) so keep that in mind when you think about your day. And even if you don't go to Yellowstone, you'll want to spend a day or two trying out your equipment in the field. One last thought--when I got to Botswana, I discovered my battery charger was broken. So try EVERYTHING out just before you go. One last last thought--I used to think they yelled out "GEARHEAD" but I've come to really find tactical vests or camera vests to be the way to go for trips like this. It will be one more layer of clothes to help keep you warm. It makes all your critical gear accessible (especially if you're hiking or in a vehicle). Definitely beats carrying a camera backpack.

    And thanks for the kind words on the photo. The Tetons will just be nonstop photo opportunities--gorgeous place to shoot.

    Looking forward to you posting your photos.
     
  7. MSnowy

    MSnowy TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    All great advice. So much to see and get pictures of. I put my 500mm on a tripod and my d7100 with 14-24 on Black Rapid RS5 and switched the camera between the 2 according to what I saw. I also carried a Tamron 18-50mm in my coat pocket. I did'd hike much because the high altitude kicked my butt. Don't forget to bring water every time you head out, the high altitude can be quite an adjust for us sea-level folks.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Also, I just realized that a friend of my (Carol Ward) who lives on the Eastern Shore just got back from a photo trip to the Tetons. I'll pick her advice for locations and advice and then get back to you with those.
     
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  9. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    great advice thanks Joe! I’m going to try to plan at least 2 days at Yellowstone. I did some research last night and looks like I could just hit the highlights for some photos and scout for a longer trip in the future.
     
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  10. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    thanks good to know about the altitude. Would not have considered that. Will have to bring my refillable bottles.
     
  11. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    It may be counter intuitive but I would take a long lens...for landscapes. We normally think wide for landscapes but some of my favorite landscapes last year in Bolivia were shot at 300mm on a crop sensor. The compression this affords can be very interesting. One shot was of a lone church on a hill, at least a mile off, with a snow capped peak behind it, at least 25 miles away.

    That new wide lens you just picked up will be great for night sky shots. Bring a tripod just for that.
     
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  12. PJM

    PJM No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The Grand Tetons are awesome. You'll have a blast. I was there mid-September a year ago. I wish I could give you more info but I was just a newbie with new D5600 and kit lenses.

    If you are going that far I highly recommend going to Yellowstone. I found the colors to be amazing, not like foliage here in NE, but the grasses and flora, especially around the many hot springs. There were so many hues of red, orange, brown and green.

    A couple of things to keep in mind though. Distances between attractions are surprisingly far. You'll spend a lot of time driving. It gets crowded even in the fall. A few elk or a bison in the road can really jam up traffic. In my opinion.... skip Old Faithful, especially if you are limited on time. It's anticlimactic. Do the Grand Prismatic Spring. I also liked Mammoth Hot Springs. The cascading steps are very different from anything I've seen before.

    And no, it's not too soon to start planning. That's half the fun.

    Looking forward to see what you come back with.
     
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